What to keep in mind before buying cosmetics

Today, the cosmetics industry is a million dollar business and it can sometimes be difficult to decide what is best for your skin. In fact, choosing the right cosmetics is often a trial and error. The thing is, everyone’s skin is different, so you need to customize your cosmetics to suit your face. There are so many different brands and so many different cosmetic products for almost every skin type that most of them leave you confused as to which is best for you.

Choose cosmetics that match and complement your skin tone. When you use cosmetics that match your skin tone, you will complement and enhance your features rather than washing them out or overpowering them. It is worth investing in a good make-up. If you have good quality makeup, your face will look great and the skin will remain free from problems as the makeup stays on the skin for long hours.

Why is it important to personalize your cosmetics for the skin: What you put on your skin is as important as the food you eat. Chemicals that come into contact with your skin can be absorbed into your bloodstream. Many ingredients used in cosmetics and personal care products are toxic, even though they cause no reaction on the skin. Some cause cancer. Some of the most commonly used ingredients combine with other ingredients to form carcinogens.

So how do we choose what is best and safest for our skin? Here are some pointers that will help you:

List of ingredients mentioned: Although the ingredients mentioned by many cosmetic sellers are not complete, it is important to note the ingredients as well as the additives and preservatives. Sometimes your skin can react to preservatives as well as perfumes. Once you have a known allergy to any of these products, please avoid them completely in any other product. Many manufacturers use words on labels to promote their products which are misleading and fake. For example – hypoallergenic, all natural, herbal, etc.

Harmful chemicals: Cosmetics are made from chemicals such as parabens, petrochemicals, lead, mercury, and phthalates. The effects of many of these chemicals on your skin have not been studied enough, so side effects cannot be ruled out. At best, these could irritate your skin or cause a rash. Additionally, many products contain carcinogenic ingredients as well as ingredients that enhance the absorption of the product through the skin into the bloodstream. To make sure the products you buy are safe, check the ingredients against a reputable safety list, then move on.

Multiple ingredients in one product: Many cosmetic brands mention a long list of ingredients and after seeing many of us are confused. These products don’t have to be better than those with shorter ingredient lists. In fact, in case of allergy, it is very difficult to identify the culprit in such a case.

First determine your skin type: Before you put your finger on the right skin product, it’s important that you know your skin type and don’t get carried away by the seller. This can be done with your dermatologist who will suggest the skin type. Nowadays, there are sophisticated software and technologies that help you determine your precise skin type.

Remember that your skin type is dynamic: By dynamic, we mean that your skin type is not fixed for your entire life and is subject to change. Factors that affect your skin type are internal factors like hormones and nutritional status as well as external factors like workplace, cold/hot environment, pollution levels, etc. For example, even in a humid place like Mumbai, if you work in a place with air conditioners all day, your skin will become dry and you will need to use moisturizers more frequently. So when your place of living or place of work changes, your skincare cosmetics will also need to change.

Do a patch test: If in doubt about any of the ingredients causing an allergy or rash, skin test the product on the forearm or behind the ear for 24 hours. In case of itching or redness, avoid using the product. In case of allergy to an unknown application, consult a dermatologist.

With contributions from Dr. Satish Bhatia, a Board Certified Dermatologist.


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